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The Comment That Just Won’t Die

PoliticsI’ve spent my day taking calls about the RedState comment that just won’t die. So let me try to set this straight.

First, keep in mind the post was titled Practical Restrictions. I was talking about two things – larger issues of why the RNC has trouble doing things and a suggestion that people not pillory Patrick Ruffini because he has to do the best he can in the environment of those practical restrictions.

The post was ineloquent. I’ll be the first to admit that. I didn’t expect it to get the attention it has. Had I seen that coming, I would have been more careful with my words.

However, stifling dissent is absolutely not the issue. I can argue that point, and did yesterday.

This has nothing to do with those who comment and everything to do with those who cover the comments. The very fact that I am writing this speaks to the eagerness with which some will attempt to portray dissension in the GOP. I, by commenting on RedState, unwittingly became a part of that.

My point (and the title of the post for that matter) was there are practical realities that impede the GOP’s ability to deliver tools like the ones for which Krempasky was asking. One of those realities is the media views the GOP through a different lens than they do the democrats. This is where I dove into the incident in question.

A story was written based solely on a supporter on the GOP website using the words “private accounts” rather than “personal accounts”. To prevent that story from blossoming, the decision was made to remove the testimonials. I disagreed with that decision, but the practical reality was the tool and the semantics threatened to distract from the message.

If we are worried that someone will mull over thousands of comments to find one where a supporter uses semantics that differ from our talking points, tools that foster open discussion will be problematic. Some in the media will troll the GOP site looking for any sign of dissension, while ignoring the gaping chasm between the centrists and the left in today’s Democrat Party. The GOP will face challenges with tools that generate volumes of information that biased reporters can sift through.

While it may have been less than clear from my post, that’s the reality. Are we silencing discussion, Yes. Are we doing it from a fear of what people will say or an intolerance of discussion? No. Should I have used different words in my comment? Absolutely. Should I have assumed this would get picked up and made my case with greater clarity? Apparently. Am I backtracking from my original comment? Absolutely not.

My comment about changing minds and people in opposition to open systems was meant as a reflection on the personal belief mentioned above – I disagreed with the decision to remove functionality because of a media report. Our “internal tolerance” wasn’t based on dissension, it was based on media coverage.

That was my point about ‚ÄúArguments that restrictions of that nature are ridiculous…” I disagree that we must have semantic cohesion to fend off the bias in the media. I disagree that we must have semantic cohesion at the expense of a vehicle for our supporters comments.

Sure, it takes away the ability of some to use the website as an avenue of attack. But I disagree that limiting functionality is the answer. I think we should open the flood gates. I think we should allow users to use whatever words they choose without concern for the media. The Democrats have gone that route. If you look at some of the comments on the DNC blog or Daily Kos, it’s clear that nobody is looking at their comments as the basis of a story.

When a reporter calls, we need to say, “Guess what, it’s a big world. When Social Security is in crisis, people will use different words to call attention to the problem. The party has its talking points, and we’re using this site to educate people that we’re talking about personal accounts, not social security privatization. Some people may not see the distinction, yet, but we’re working on that. That’s what this site is about ‚Äì fostering the discussion.”

That is the hard sell I referenced Рchanging our tactics when those with an agenda rear their head. Until we do, the practical restrictions remain. Limited functionality prevents those with an agenda from using our site against us. As long as the site functions like a brochure, we’re safe.

There are those who disagree with that concept. Patrick Ruffini, I believe, is one. So I asked that people give him an opportunity to convert some people, to make some believers. I think he can.

Written by Michael Turk